Mushroom Ragu

While in Italy recently, I ate the most amazing mushroom pasta dish. Rich and creamy, and so full of flavour. It was a very satisfying and filling plate too – I almost forgot I hadn’t eaten meat. I replicated it at home and after a couple of tries, managed to recreate the taste pretty much spot on. It’s a simple but very tasty dish. I made double the recipe shown here and froze it in cup sized portions – it’s perfect for a one-person pasta lunch or dinner.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 30g packet dried porcini mushrooms
2 brown shallots (finely diced)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4-5 large sage leaves
4-5 stems thyme (whole)
1 small stem rosemary
1 bay leaf
4 x portabello mushrooms (about 300g) (chopped)
1 cup white wine
1 ripe tomato (chopped)
300ml chicken stock
Salt & pepper

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 350ml hot water for 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and squeeze the excess liquid out then chop finely. Retain the soaking liquid by passing through a fine sieve to get rid of any grit.

Meanwhile, lightly fry the shallot, garlic, sage, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf over a moderate heat until the shallots are soft (about 5 minutes).

Add the chopped mushrooms and porcini and fry for a further 8 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the wine and  chopped tomato and stir for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. Add the stock and porcini soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium/low and let it gently simmer for 20 minutes until the liquid has halved.

Fish out the herbs and discard, then take out half of the mushrooms and half the liquid and place into a food processor. Whizz until you have a smooth creamy soup-like texture. Return this to the pan with the rest of the mushrooms and stir well (Add a little water if the sauce is too thick, or reduce for a few minutes if too thin). Season generously with salt and pepper then remove from heat.

Stir into thick, ribboned pasta like papardelle or tagliatelle with lots of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese.

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